Archbishop Chaput: Synod does include 'lobbying' in search of truth

When a big group of people gathers to discuss something important, people start lobbying, even if that group is the world Synod of Bishops, said Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia. 

Pope Francis told participants Oct. 6 "we should avoid thinking of each other as conspiring against one another, but to work for unity among the bishops," Archbishop Chaput told reporters at a synod press briefing at the Vatican Oct. 7.


"I have never been at a church meeting where there aren't groups that get together and lobby for a particular direction and that's going on, I assure you," the archbishop said. "That's what happens when human beings get together. We shouldn't be surprised or scandalized by that as long as it's done up front and honestly and not in a way that tries to win rather than to arrive at the truth."

French Archbishop Laurent Ulrich of Lille told reporters he heard Pope Francis' admonition as an encouragement "to safeguard serenity in our discussions."

"And the pope told us last year, didn't he, that we should speak with all freedom and listen to each other with all humility," added Peruvian Archbishop Salvador Pineiro Garcia-Calderon of Ayacucho.

A journalist asked the bishops about the possibility that national or regional bishops' conferences would be given more responsibility for some matters, including pastoral approaches to marriage, given the diversity issues impacting families around the world.

The reporter cited Pope Francis' exhortation, "The Joy of the Gospel," which said: "A juridical status of episcopal conferences which would see them as subjects of specific attributions, including genuine doctrinal authority, has not yet been sufficiently elaborated. Excessive centralization, rather than proving helpful, complicates the church's life and her missionary outreach."

Archbishop Chaput responded, "The Catholic Church is described as 'catholic' if it reaches everywhere and reaches out to everyone in welcome, but also it believes the same thing everywhere about our relationship with God and our relationships with one another. Some of that can be handled better universally and some of that can be handled better locally."

"At the same time, diversity is always in the service of unity in the Catholic Church," so "I don't think we would say it is appropriate for bishops' conferences to decide matters of doctrine and things like that."

Belgian Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp had told the synod Oct. 6, "In their local churches bishops encounter a great variety of questions and needs to which they must provide a pastoral answer today."

Responses to the questionnaire set out by the Vatican before the synod and the consultations bishops carried out in preparation for the synod showed that many of the most important questions raised "clearly differ between countries and continents," Bishop Bonny said.

"There is, however, a common theme in those questions, namely the desire that the church will stand in 'the great river of mercy.' It is important that the synod give space and responsibility to the local bishops to formulate suitable answers to the pastoral questions of that part of the people of God which is entrusted to their pastoral care. The individual bishops' conferences have a special role in this.

"The synod not only deals with 'the family as church,' but also with 'the church as family,'" he said. "Every family knows what it means to work on unity in diversity, with patience and creativity."

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
E.Patrick Mosman
3 years ago
""At the same time, diversity is always in the service of unity in the Catholic Church," How exactly does this linguistic legerdemain work in practice as it would seem to endorse an "anything goes" as long as it is done in the name of or under the auspices and banner of the Catholic Church. Also it appears to be a repudiation of the tens of thousands of martyrs who have given their lives over 2000+years for beliefs that could be modified, changed or declared non-effective by the Synod. Since Vatican II the liberal wing of the Catholic Church has promulgated the superiority of one's own, or the subjective conscience, and in February 1991 Cardinal Ratzinger delivered the Church's response in his presentation 'Conscience and Truth" delivered at the '10th Workshop for Bishops; in Dallas Texas. A brief summary if his conclusion is found in the following extract, "It is of course undisputed that one must follow a certain conscience or at least not act against it. But whether the judgment of conscience is always right, indeed whether it is infallible, is another question. For if this were the case, it would mean that there is no truth - at least not in moral and religious matters, which is to say, in the areas which constitute the very pillars of our existence. For judgments of conscience can contradict each other. Thus there could be at best the subject's own truth, which would be reduced to the subject's sincerity." Unfortunately many "Catholics" use their own 'subjective conscience' to repudiate teachings and beliefs of the Church while they express belief in its being, one and holy every time they attend Mass,if they do, and recite the Creed. It is evident that a number of Catholics believe that their own subjective conscience gives them the moral authority to decide which actions, behaviors, are right, which are wrong, which Church teachings can be rejected so as not to inhibit their secular life style in other words, to follow the crowd not the Church. Many believe that Vatican II provided this decision making authority but the authorities did not plaster over the wall of the Sistine Chapel on which Michelangelo's "The last Judgment" appears. If a copy of The Last Judgment were to be placed behind the altar in every Church, the Sunday Sermon be could be reduced to the priest pointing to the painting and saying "That all folks. We report, you decide".


The latest from america

While recommitting to help, L.I.R.S. and the U.S. bishops called on the Trump administration to “commit to immigration policies that are humane and uphold each individual’s human dignity.”
J.D. Long-GarcíaOctober 17, 2018
Caroline McClain, 16, sits on the ruins of her family's Mexico Beach vacation home after Hurricane Michael. Photo by Atena Sherry.
Human-driven climate change is intensifying tropical cyclones across the globe, climatologists say, but the role it played in the tragedy at Mexico Beach is both subtle and surprising.
Mario ArizaOctober 17, 2018
Our faith tells us that Christ chose to suffer on our behalf and that when we choose to do the same, in the service of others, we imitate Jesus in our own lives.
Terrance KleinOctober 17, 2018
Let’s begin to enlist both left and right in service of the vulnerable—using the ideological language they already accept.
Simcha FisherOctober 17, 2018